Jack Black Calls ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ A ‘Powerful Gem’

In a long interview with MTV News, star talks about getting larger than life for the adaptation of Jonathan Swift's classic.

If there is one role Jack Black seems perfectly suited for, it is that of Jonathan Swift’s beloved Lemuel Gulliver from [movie id="413346"]“Gulliver’s Travels.”[/movie]

The classic tale has been retold by plenty of television shows and films. But this version, which arrives in theaters December 22, stars Black, Amanda Peet, Emily Blunt and Jason Segel — and, according to Peet, it showcases a few song and dance moments by Black.

When MTV News caught up with Black recently, we had a hard time keeping him on topic (chocolate-covered Gulliver candy bars, anyone?). But what we did learn is that the flick is going to be “good times” and that the 3-D is 90 percent awesome.

MTV: What can I expect from ‘Gulliver’s travels’?

Jack Black: It’s a powerful gem. It’s the old classic tale faithfully retold! We’ve taken some liberties. We’ve updated it; we’ve modernized with a pinch of spice as well.

MTV: I feel that you are the “King Kong” in this scenario.

Black: Exactly! Now I get to be the beast. But I’m a sweet beast; I don’t rip the heads off innocent bystanders. We might actually add that to the title … “Gulliver’s Travels: The Sweet Beast.” Would you see that?

MTV: That sounds like a date night movie to me!

Black: That could also work in with a merchandise tie-in, like a candy bar that’s called Beasts. And shaped like me — you can eat me!

MTV: Would you want to eat yourself?

Black: Well, I eat myself. I chew my fingernails.

MTV: Right. So why not eat yourself covered in chocolate.

Black: Man, if I could eat myself I would!

MTV: So did you read the original Jonathan Swift book, or no?

Black: Of course! Are you kidding me? And let me tell you something, if I hadn’t, I would have never have sent it to you. No, I hadn’t, actually, when I was first offered the project. But I quickly read it and was blown away by it. One of the great masterworks of fantasy and fiction.

MTV: Like myself, you’re not the tallest guy on the planet. Is it refreshing for you to be the big guy?

Black: Totally. This is gonna really appeal to all of those guys out there who have a bit of a Napoleonic complex.

MTV: Right.

Black: How tall are you?

MTV: I’m about 5’8″.

Black: You’re 5’8″? OK, come on, you’re with me, baby. This movie is for you and me!

MTV: That’s what I’m saying. I’m excited! So how is the effect stuff? Are you by yourself, or are you doing scenes with Jason and Emily and everybody?

Black: Sometimes, yeah, sometimes I was. Sometimes you’re just remembering what we did on the other side of it. I was there for all their little stuff, but when they turned the cameras on me six months later, most of the people were gone and I was just acting to a tennis ball.

MTV: Is Emily a love interest for you? Because that would present a physical problem.

Black: No. She and Jason Segel have a bit of heat. Horatio is like my best buddy in Lilliputia, in the land of tiny people. Horatio, that’s Jason Segel. And he’s too nervous to ask her out, so I teach him the ways of the Casanova, and I help him to woo her.

MTV: Are they an advanced people, or a backward society?

Black: No, it’s an alternate universe, where it’s kind of like 18th-century architecture, but with super-skillful builders so they have a lot of technology but not. It’s like steampunk. It’s like if computer technology had been invented in Egyptian times! It’s both! It’s future and past at the same time.

MTV: How do you feel about looking at yourself in 3-D?

Black: The only people who have seen themselves in 3-D are people who have been in 3-D movies, because all you can do is look at [yourself] in a mirror reflection. Your hand’s in 3-D. You can see the corners of your nose in 3-D, kind of. You can see your lips and your tongue if you stick it out really far. But besides that, you don’t see your face in 3-D.

MTV: What’s it like?

Black: It’s a trip! Didn’t know how handsome I was until I saw myself in 3-D!

MTV: Right. How would you characterize this guy?

Black: Let me just say, though, before we go any further, I noticed a little something in your voice when you talked about the conversion into 3-D, how do I feel about that? I just wanna say, most of this movie is CGI-generated images, you know what I mean? Like every shot has computer generated animation? To make the giant and tiny mix together you need to have tons of that stuff in there. And those things can be true 3-D, there’s not really a conversion there. It’s really just … like an animated film isn’t shot in 3-D, but it’s converted, because they do it in post, and it’s real true 3-D, so most of the movie will be real and true 3-D. It’s terrifying!

MTV: Are you a 3-D snob? Do you like 3-D?

Black: Yes I am a 3-D snob, and I just want to clarify: Only 10 percent of this movie will be lame 3-D. The other 90 percent will be the best 3-D that money can buy!

MTV: Which will overcompensate for the 10 percent?

Black: That’s right.

MTV: What do I need to know about your character in this movie?

Black: Gulliver works at a newspaper in New York City, in the mailing room. He’s a small potato, he’s a small fry and he’s very insecure. And he’s a small man in a big man’s world. He’s got big dreams of becoming a big travel writer someday but he’s too insecure to make the move. And he’s also in love with the travel editor, the gorgeous Amanda Peet. He’s too terrified of rejection to make the move. And an opportunity comes up to do a story on the Bermuda Triangle, to prove that it’s bogus? That there are no, you know, supernatural forces in the Bermuda Triangle, that take people away to a different dimension. You know the legend to the Bermuda Triangle, right?

MTV: Of course. Everyone knows you don’t mess with the Bermuda Triangle.

Black: Well, yeah. Gulliver goes headlong into it just to impress everybody back at the newspaper and hopefully get a date with that hot, hot gorgeous love of his life. Only problem is? The Bermuda Triangle is real, man! And it sucks him in and spits him out in Lilliputia, a land of tiny, tiny little creatures and people. And it’s a bummer at first when he gets there, because they enslave him. And it turns out that he rescues the whole country from their enemies. He’s a giant so he can save them. And all of a sudden he’s the big shot that he always wanted to be. It’s a wish fulfillment movie. You pickin’ up what I’m layin’ down?

MTV: I got it, man.

Black: I guess what I’m saying is, it’s good times.

From the saucy Jessica Alba in “Little Fockers” to James Franco’s grueling journey in “127 Hours,” the MTV Movies team is delving into the hottest flicks of fall 2010. Check back daily for exclusive clips, photos and interviews with the films’
biggest stars.

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